Wednesday, 14 August 2019

All the First Minister’s men



Imagine if sometime in mid-2014 we had discovered that Alex Salmond had been accused of committing a serious crime in 2013. What sort of effect would this have had on the independence referendum? Imagine too if between the alleged crime and the summer of 2014 the SNP Government had made an inquiry into the events, but that this inquiry was so flawed that Alex Salmond had been paid more than £500,000 pounds. Would this have made a difference to the Yes Campaign?

What if Boris Johnson a few months prior to the EU referendum had allegedly committed a serious crime. Imagine if a few days prior to the referendum we had found out that the police were investigating this crime, but that the Leave campaign had botched an internal investigation into Mr Johnson’s actions. How many percentage points would Leave have lost owing to this revelation just before polling day?


 But what if we had found out about Mr Johnson’s alleged crime only now, three years after his side had won the referendum. I wonder how Remain supporters would react. They have complained about the supposed lies that Vote Leave made. But what if Vote Leave knew way back in 2016 that Mr Johnson might have committed a crime, but somehow this information was never made public at the time. I think all of us whether we voted Leave or Remain would want to know why.

Scottish politics turns on two events. If the SNP had not won an overall majority at the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, we would not have had the independence referendum in 2014. If there had not been the long campaign for Scottish independence, leading to Yes getting to 44%, we would not have had the subsequent SNP dominance of Scottish politics. Imagine if Yes had lost by a few more percentage points. If Yes had won, for example 38% then, we would have been told that support for Remaining in the UK was overwhelming. For a very long-time support for independence was in the twenties and thirties. Imagine if in the summer of 2014 we had discovered that Alex Salmond allegedly committed a crime in 2013 and that a flawed Scottish Government investigation had cost the Scottish tax payer £500,000. How many percentage points would the Yes campaign have lost?

Amber Rudd said during the EU referendum that she would think very carefully about taking a lift home with Boris Johnson. The implication was that Johnson was something less than a gentleman. But what if Mr Johnson had been accused of a crime involving women. Would Amber Rudd have used this to suggest that he was still less to be trusted? Imagine the various debates that took place in the summer of 2014 between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling. If we had known about Salmond’s alleged crime that took place in 2013 how would these debates have gone? Would the Scottish public have trusted a leader who was due to stand trial? We all, of course, believe in the presumption of innocence, but we also tend to prefer political leaders who don’t end up in court. Donald Trump was condemned for just talking about groping women. What if the police believed they had enough evidence to convict him in a trial?

If we had known what we do now in 2014 it is likely that Mr Salmond would have had to resign both as First Minister and as head of the Yes Campaign. Who would have taken over? It is obvious that Nicola Sturgeon would have been in charge. But the Yes Campaign would still have been fatally damaged. The problem with Watergate was not so much the initial crime, but the cover up that followed it. In the summer of 2014, everyone would have been asking Sturgeon what she had known about Mr Salmond. After all, the SNP in 2014 was a team made up of people who had known each other for years. Had there really been no whispers at all. Had the various witnesses and victims not told anyone in the SNP and had those people really not told Nicola Sturgeon?

The revelations about Mr Salmond’s alleged crime and the subsequent flawed investigation by the SNP Government, would have finished the Yes Campaign in 2014. If we had known, then what we know now Yes would not have come close to 44%. The Pro UK side was not robbed of victory, but we were robbed of the overwhelming victory which would have killed off independence.

As I have argued elsewhere, I don’t see how you can prove one way or the other what did or didn’t happen in private six years ago. A botched investigation whether by the police or anyone else leading to large sums of money being paid to a defendant would appear to make conviction still less likely. But in the course of proving guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt at some point we are all going to have to find out who knew what and when. Is it really possible that the SNP First Minister and head of the Scottish Government knew nothing from 2013 to 2018? When we first heard about Mr Salmond’s alleged crimes, was it a complete surprise to Sturgeon. But if Sturgeon did know, when did she first know? How did she find out? Was there an attempt like Nixon’s to cover up?  The SNP might have been decapitated in 2013 or 2014. If Salmond feels the need to bring down more than himself, the SNP could be leaderless again. Who then would take them to the promised land?

27 comments:

  1. Imagine your auntie had balls, she'd be your uncle......although these days who knows.

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  2. Effie has raised several points with which I have been keen to deal for some time. I am grateful.

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  3. Excellent essay once again. I do hope your anti-Sturgeon/SNP campaign gains traction. 😊

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  4. What is it with sycophantic British nationalists types, always sucking up to Effie but rarely backing it up with even a casual sentence worthy of any thought.

    It always just arse kissing and warm wishes. Do they lack any intellectual abilities beyond nice manners. Maybe its the type who follow 'older female' bloggers.

    Grow a pair you old toffs, get in about it, you are boring us all to death with tea and crumpet special wishes.

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  5. Grow up, running tap.

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  6. The gravamen of the condemnation of Mr. Donald Trump's misogyny is, in fact, rather more substantial than the tasteless remarks in question. Anybody who wishes to clarify their understanding will find evidence and useful discussion on the websites of authoritative sources such as Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, CNN, Forward, and the New York Review of Books.

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    1. I leave for another occasion the issues of Mr. Boris Johnson's uninhibited mendacity, and his lack of consistent principle. His amorous adventures qua amorous adventures are *not* the point at issue, nor would they necessarily be. )One only has to think of the first Earl Dwyfor, for example.) What unnerves most of us is that he neither perceives or observes any boundary between his private and public lives.

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  7. Of course Sturgeon knew. Unless you are prepared to believe she rose to the top without keeping up with SNP internal gossip.

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    1. Some one else who has already decided there was something to know and that Salmond is guilty of all charges .... despite the court case still being months away. Relishing it much?

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  8. I personally think that the consistent amalgamating of the forces of law and order under one banner "Police Scotland" says everything about what would happen if God forbid, Scotland gained independence.

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    1. The cringe is strong.....could be terminal

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    2. The Kingdom of Norway, with roughly the same population as the Kingdom of Scotland, has also enjoyed the services of a national police force for many years. The prospects are encouraging.

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  9. Effie assumes the breaking of the Salmond story prior to the 2014 referendum would have seen the collapse of the Yes vote. On the surface, that may seem a reasonable assumption. However, it is not as clear as she believes.

    Salmond was one of the most scrutinised men on the planet at the time of alleged incidents, yet a universally hostile UK and Scottish media (desperate to pin anything at all on him) completely missed it despite most of them supposedly perpetrated in public. There are three possibilities that immediately come to mind;

    (1) Its all rubbish and he is innocent of all charges.
    (2) Its all true but the UK/Scottish media is completely incompetent (not beyond the bounds of possibility).
    (3) Its all true but the UK/Scottish media sat on it.

    The third option may seem counter-intuitive but "convenient" scandals can have a way of blowing up in your face. Effie assumes that swithering voters would be instantly repulsed by Salmond and become solid No voters (which assumes voters equated Salmond with Yes and they were synonymous in peoples minds .... which is debatable). However, there is just as much chance that a collective "Aye-Right" would have gone up among the electorate with a massive swing to Yes as a sceptical people viewed the scandal as rather too conveniently timed. The UK/Scottish media may have had this scenario in mind if the allegations are true, they are not completely incompetent and they decided to sit on them rather than break the scandal.

    The actual assumption that the scandal would have hurt the Yes movement is also tempered by an incident during the EU referendum. Weeks before the vote, a crazed Leave supporter gunned down a prominent Remain MP in the street while shouting "Britain first". I thought, at the time, the Leave campaign was finished and only the most extreme of right-wing British Nationalists would vote for it. I was wrong and the incident didn't seem to harm the Leave campaign at all.

    You can assume nothing in life or politics.

    Me Bungo Pony

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    1. The above one can be deleted ... or not. Entirely up to you. Temporarily forgot my Google log-in.

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  10. Effie assumes the breaking of the Salmond story prior to the 2014 referendum would have seen the collapse of the Yes vote. On the surface, that may seem a reasonable assumption. However, it is not as clear as she believes.

    Salmond was one of the most scrutinised men on the planet at the time of the alleged incidents, yet a universally hostile UK and Scottish media (desperate to pin anything at all on him) completely missed it despite most of them supposedly perpetrated in public. There are three possibilities that immediately come to mind;

    (1) Its all rubbish and he is innocent of all charges.
    (2) Its all true but the UK/Scottish media is completely incompetent (not beyond the bounds of possibility).
    (3) Its all true but the UK/Scottish media sat on it.

    The third option may seem counter-intuitive but "convenient" scandals can have a way of blowing up in your face. Effie assumes that swithering voters would be instantly repulsed by Salmond and become solid No voters (which assumes voters equated Salmond with Yes and they were synonymous in peoples minds .... which is debatable). However, there is just as much chance that a collective "Aye-Right" would have gone up among the electorate with a massive swing to Yes as a sceptical people viewed the scandal as rather too conveniently timed. The UK/Scottish media may have had this scenario in mind if the allegations are true, they are not completely incompetent and they decided to sit on them rather than break the scandal.

    The actual assumption that the scandal would have hurt the Yes movement is also tempered by an incident during the EU referendum. Weeks before the vote, a crazed Leave supporter gunned down a prominent Remain MP in the street while shouting "Britain first". I thought, at the time, the Leave campaign was finished and only the most extreme of right-wing British Nationalists would vote for it. I was wrong and the incident didn't seem to harm the Leave campaign at all.

    You can assume nothing in life or politics.

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    1. Making assumptions is indeed risky. Nevertheless, it is right and proper to draw conclusions from evidence. It would appear that very many supporters of Brexit are perfectly comfortable with the use of lethal violence by other Brexit supporters.

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    2. Of course, there is a 4th possibility: it's all true, and you're a tribalist who will bend over backwards to muddy the waters round any issue, including the abuse of women, if it might damage your cause.

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    3. I think it is you who is exhibiting "tribalism" Anon. I've merely put forward three possibilities two of which assume Salmond's guilt. I don't know if he is guilty or innocent.

      You have apparently already had him tried and convicted, months before the trial is due to commence, simply because he is who he is and you assume it would "damage my cause" and help yours. As I said, it is you who is exhibiting tribalism, not me,

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    4. But you are tribal. "universally hostile UK and Scottish (sic) media" is where your rebuttal falls. If in doubt seek the wisdom of the elders.

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    5. Stating a fact is not "tribal" Anon. Anyone who wishes to retain a shred of credibility cannot deny the fact that not one national (sic) newspaper supported the Yes campaign until the Sunday Herald late on. All were openly and statedly hostile. Even unionists agree on that.

      Must we pretend things are not what they were or be considered "tribal"? It is those who insist on the pretence for their own advantage who are "tribal", not those (both unionist and indy) who simply acknowledge the reality.

      The wisdom of the elders is often not what it was.

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    6. What nonsense. If you propose massive change, the onus is on you to show the benefit. Newspapers will rightly expect to challenge you on that. Your lack of any answers really doesn't mean they are hostile.

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  11. Effie speaks of decapitating the SNP, clearly believing that this would halt the drive towards independence. She shares the attitude of the British Establishment to the aspiration of many people in Ireland long ago for self-government.

    By 'Establishment' I mean that total matrix, designated by Mr. Henry Fairlie in his 'Spectator' article, of social and official networks within which power is exercised. This is not, of course, a closed caste. Miss Margaret Hilda Roberts, for example, was able to secure admission by marrying a man wealthy enough to support her training for the English Bar.

    The British Establishment ignored the genial clubman Isaac Butt. They destroyed the land reformer Charles Parnell, with the enthusiastic support of some Irish prelates. They treated the ardent monarchist John Redmond as a joke. And they ended up negotiating a ceasefire with people of whom they hadn't heard before.

    The moral of this is that, when faced with opponents who want to negotiate with one, the best bet is to *negotiate*.

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  12. By 'kill independence' I hope very much that Effie means 'persuade the overwhelming majority of people that independence is not a good idea'.

    A good example of how to do this presents itself in Canada. There it was decided to reverse the hostile policies against francophones and peoples of the First Nations, and to set up robust and coherent constitutional arrangements to ensure the alleviation of grievances and the prevention of their reocurrence.



    A good example of how *not* to do this is to be seen in the Spanish State. Post-fascist reforms had made it possible for the Catalans to secure some future for their language and culture. Josep Carreras famously said "The more Catalan I am allowed to be, the more Spanish I shall feel." Since then, the various Espanolistas in power in Madrid have attacked all the successful reforms, abolished the independence of the judiciary, and deployed paramilitary forces in a territory almost entirely free of an insurgent tradition. The consequence is that independence is now a serious option for most people. Despite the deployment of the equivalent of an infantry division authorized to use any requisite violence, a referendum was able to achieve a solid majority in favour of independence.

    Verb. sap.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. For clarity, the above two comments were deleted because the original comment was meant to be reply to "Anonymous14 August 2019 at 20:28". It ended up at the bottom of the thread for some reason. It is now in its rightful place.

      Sorry for making the thread untidy :(

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